Alternatives to an Internship/Co-op

While an internship is a great way to build necessary career skills for most any student and career field, there are many reasons why a student may not be able to complete an internship. A few reasons students may not complete an internship include; not having the time to devote the hours an internship requires, not meeting internship requirements, or there may not be internships of interest available at the time you are applying. 

If you are unable to complete an internship, it is important to consider alternative opportunities for building the career skills that will make you marketable to future employers. 

Part-time Jobs or Summer Jobs

Much like an internship, a part-time or summer job will provide you with hands-on experiences that build and strengthen a wide range of career-related skills.

Popular work opportunities for students include LSU student employment, retail jobs, camp counselor, sales, customer service, jobs that rely on manual labor, jobs within a small or family business, tutoring, babysitting, and more.

Although the work opportunity may not be directly related to your intended career field, it can still provide you with transferrable skills such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving, organization, customer service, and work ethic. 


Similar to part-time and summer jobs, volunteering also provides you with valuable hands-on experience and opportunities to build and strengthen a wide range of career-related skills. 

Volunteering with a non-profit or government organization often allows you to develop your critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and intercultural fluency skills. When volunteering, you have the opportunity to examine a community issue, learn from community leaders and activists, and see how an organization can create positive change through their employees of volunteers. Organizations typically view volunteer experience as a sign that you are conscientious and community-minded. 

Virtual Experiences and Virtual Internships

Build real world skills direct from leading organizations through these Virtual Experience and Virtual Internship Programs

These virtual experience programs are free for all students and cover a variety of topics depending on the experience(s) you select, including:

  • Gain practical skills by working on real projects that you can pitch to organizations and compare to real-model solutions created by the organization
  • Develop an understanding of the different roles and responsibilities of different teams within leading organizations you are interested in 
  • Test out your skills as they relate to specific skill sets the organization is seeking

Skill-building Activities

Identify the specific skills you need to be marketable to employers in your career of interest by browsing occupations on the O*NET webpage. Then, make a list of those skills and identify and pursue opportunities for you to develop these skills. Opportunities may include:

  • Personal projects, such as reading a book, starting a blog, developing an app, or creating smart spreadsheets give you interesting experiences to speak with employers about and allow you to test the waters of work similar to what you will be doing in your future career.
  • Classes and online video tutorials on websites such as Coursera, EdX, and more are excellent resources for you to gain new skills or build upon ones you already have. Understand the basics of Excel, but feel you need to be more well-versed in it to be competitive for future opportunities? Watch some videos or commit to an entire online course to help strengthen your skills. Then, try to apply that knowledge with a small, self-directed project.

Career and Self Exploration Activities

The best career is one that suits you holistically and taking time to complete self and career exploration activities are the perfect way to begin identifying that career.

Career exploration and planning activities allow you to learn about a wide variety of careers before narrowing down to a specific job you are interested in.

  • Utilize our Major & Career Decision-Making webpage for career assessments that will help you understand your interests and which careers could be a good fit, for online resources for exploring occupations, for understanding career trends and educational requirements, and more.
  • Also consider reading books and blogs on occupations, researching companies in Handshake. and conducting informational interviews.
  • Start or continue networking and refresh existing connections in careers of interest. 
  • Perfect your professional online presence by updating your Handshake and LinkedIn profile.